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Study Built Environment in Australia

Melbourne's Built Environment
Author Graham Thorpe VUT

Australia is an economically and culturally vibrant place to be. It's annual economic growth rate is in excess of 4% and it's exports of manufactured goods are increasing consistently by more than 5% per year. It is a land of migrants with 23% of it's population being born overseas, in more than 200 different countries.

Melbourne, the capital state of Victoria, is the educational and scientific powerhouse of the nation - the Boston of the South. It has eight world-class universities, seven of which playa key role in the State's development, producing Masters and Doctoral graduates at the forefront of knowledge in aspects of the built environment.

Melbourne is also a production, trading and transport hub. Exports are growing at an annual rate of 7%, and exports that originate from other states and pass through Melbourne are doubling every five years. As a result, the city is upgrading its urban infrastructure. A 22km long freeway that skirts the northwest sector of the city has recently been opened to facilitate the movement of freight to and from the seaports and airports. The dock- lands, which are adjacent to the Melbourne Central Business District, are being redeveloped with a sports stadium that can seat 54,000 people, as well as a new residential housing project. Construction of the world's tallest building on the site is being mooted.

Developments such as those being experienced in Victoria demand a supply of highly-trained professionals. Victoria University of Technology, one of Australia's newest universities, founded in 1991, is rapidly establishing itself in several targeted research areas. The School of the Built Environment is one of the university's most productive research units, and recently pioneered the 'Xie Algorithm', a new method for optimising structures. The School is also a world leader in the development of post-harvest systems for maintaining commodities such as food grains, in good condition without needing to use chemical pesticides.

The University of Melbourne lies at the other end of the age scale - it is Victoria's oldest university, founded in 1853. The university's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has four key research areas: Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering. Hydrology and Water Resources. Production Agriculture. and Engineering Project and Construction Management. The department has been building up its expertise in earthquake  engineering and the dynamics of structure for fifteen years. and has a wide range of software. shaking tables and other specialist equipment.

Monash University was established on a 'green fields' site with new faculty members in 1958. Research on the built environment is conducted in both the Departments of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, with researchers concentrating their efforts in the general areas of structural engineering, geomechanics, water resources engi- neering. transport and traffic engineering, and timber engineering.

Deakin University is based in Geelong, a pleasant city located some 70km southwest  of Melbourne. The campus is home to the Built Environment Group and the Building Resource Management Group, located in the School of Architecture Building. The main aims of the research are to help design buildings that are appropriate to their environments, comfortable, resource-efficient and aesthetically pleasing. One aspect of the research is to investigate glazing techniques that integrate the requirement for good natural lighting and energy efficiency.

Swinburne University, located in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, has a reputation for producing graduates who have been exposed to an entrepreneurial spirit and identify with the needs of industry. Members of the Department of Civil Engineering have recently developed a litter trap that prevents environ- mentally harmful waste from being flushed into Melbourne's Port Phi1lip Bay, as well as storm-water control systems that regulate the flow out of building sites that are becoming occupied by higher-density housing.

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University is the largest tertiary institution in Australia. The Department of Civil Engineering concentrates principally on teaching at the undergraduate level, although some research is carried out. One of its areas of specialisation is the development of high-strength concrete, which can be used to minimise the amount of space taken up in tall building by columns, and maximise that area that can be rented.

The University of Ballarat is located about an hours drive from Melbourne, and was founded in 1994 from the former School of Mines and Teachers' College. Its research activities in engineering include vibration and strength, fluid mechanics, and rock and soil mechanics. The university also has a particular strength in occu- pational health and safety. This brief guided tour of Melbourne's universities illustrates the opportunities for graduate research in the area of the built environment. As an added benefit. Melbourne is a great and safe place to live and study. Sports, culture, fine scenery and a diverse and friendly people provide a wonderful environment for overseas students.

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